🔥The Beast
John sees a beast rising out of the sea, summoned by the dragon on the seashore (12:17). The sea was a place of chaos, danger, and evil for the Hebrews (cf. comment on 21:1). The vision draws on Daniel 7:3, where Daniel sees “four great beasts . . . out of the sea
.” The beasts in Daniel represent great empires, & a great empire — almost certainly Rome — is in John’s mind as well. The kingdom rising out of the sea is not humane, civil, or supportive of its citizens. Instead, it is like a ravaging & ferocious beast, preying on its citizens.
The beast described here is probably the fourth beast seen by Daniel (Dan. 7:7, 19, 23). The beast in Revelation has extraordinary power, for it has ten horns, with ten diadems (Rev. 17:12; cf. Dan. 7:20, 24)—symbols of ruling authority—on its horns. It has seven heads, also
signifying its authority and power. The dragon had seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 12:3), and he clearly has given his authority to the beast. The beast with its horns and diadems parodies the Christ (cf. 5:6; 19:12), just as the dragon does. The seven heads bear blasphemous
names, which are perhaps Roman claims to deity, such as “Lord,” “son of God,” and “Savior” (cf. also 17:3), revealing again the divine pretensions of the beast. The beast is not confined to the Roman Empire; it refers to Rome but applies also to every manifestation of evil in
all governments throughout history, and also to the final conflict to come at the end.
The deadly wound signifies the apparent demise of tyrannical rule. Rome’s dominion looks as if it has been dethroned and removed forever.
The staying power of the beast and its empire leads to worship of the dragon and the beast. The dragon is worshiped for giving authority to the beast. The beast is worshiped because of his so-called resurrection. He is considered incomparable and omnipotent,
like God (cf. Ex. 15:11; Ps. 89:7). People worship the beast, believing he cannot be resisted or overcome. As has often been observed in history, people support a winner.
Twice in this verse we are told what “was given” to the beast: a mouth to utter proud, blasphemous words, and authority for forty-two months. The clause “it was given” (edothē) appears four other times in this chapter (13:7 [2x], 14, 15).
Although the dragon actively gives (edōken; 13:2, 4) his authority to the beast, God reigns and rules over what the beast carries out, allowing or permitting the beast to exercise his authority. Even though God ordains what the beast does, he does not have the same motivations
or intent as Satan. God’s judgment is his “strange” work (Isa. 28:21), and he calls on the wicked to repent and live (Ezek. 18:23, 32), while Satan rejoices when people are destroyed. The “secret things” belong to the Lord (Deut. 29:29), and hence we cannot fully chart or
explicate the logical relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility.
The beast is full of himself, uttering “haughty and blasphemous words” against God,
just as Antiochus IV Epiphanes did in his day, functioning as a type of the coming beast (cf. Dan. 7:8, 20; 11:36). Such activity fits also with the “man of lawlessness,” who exalts himself as divine (2 Thess. 2:3–4)
The beast is allowed to exercise his authority for forty-two months. Some understand this to be a literal three and one-half years before Jesus returns. But John is more likely describing the entire period between Jesus’ first and second coming (cf. comment on Rev. 11:2);
John wrote not of days far removed from his readers but of the impact of the Roman Empire on them. All totalitarian governments arrogating to themselves divine authority reveal that they too are the beast.
John focuses on the beast’s opposition to God, drawing especially on Daniel. As in verse 5, the beast’s self-exaltation expresses itself in his speech, which blasphemes God and his name. He follows the pattern of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, of whom Daniel 7:25
says, “He shall speak words against the Most High.”The prophecy of Daniel 11:36 is also fulfilled: “He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods.” The beast also reviles God’s dwelling,
those who dwell in heaven (cf. Rev. 12:12). This is likely a reference to the people of God (21:3), showing that their true home is in heaven. The actions of the beast here accord with Daniel 7:25, where the beast opposes God and his people. The beast,harboring divine pretension
hates anything and anyone devoted to the one true and living God.

Twice more we see what God has given (edothē) the beast. First, God has allowed him to make war on the saints and conquer them. This does not mean the saints surrender their faith (cf. comment on 11:7). It means
God allows the beast to take their lives (cf. 2:13; 6:9–11; 16:6; 17:6; 18:24; 19:2; 20:4); this too follows the pattern found in Daniel, where Daniel says about Antiochus IV Epiphanes, , “This horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them” (Dan. 7:21; cf. Dan. 7:25).
God grants the desires of the beast for a period of time, so that the beast exercises authority over every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. We see here the reach of the imperial cult and the totalitarian nature of the beast’s rule.

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